Thursday, December 17, 2009

Night Riders-Robert Penn Warren**

Just finished Night Riders by Robert Penn Warren. I give it two stars out of four. Robert Penn Warren was the fist Poet Laureate for the United States. He wrote many novels and obviously was a first rate poet. I have yet to read his poetry and this was the first novel of his that I have read. It was also his first novel. I plan to read more and assume that his subsequent novels were much better.

This book follows the fate of Percy Munn, caught in the labyrinth of the tobacco wars. The novel is a dreary tale of Munn's demise. Warren's premise, repeated often, is how things tend to change, almost imperceptibly over time. But the change is real and sometimes drastic. There comes a time when the drastic change is finally noticed and one might even be able to put their finger on when the change started but the change itself is hard to trace.

Munn is a respectable man who finds himself on the side of justice attempting to do what is right by the law and right by nature. Over time, through small compromises, he turns into a compromised criminal, doing wrong for the right reasons. His demise is inevitable and unstopple. He commits adultery and murder almost without a thought only to find his conscience will not sleep. He is plagued by a sleepy remorse but cannot find the place of repentance.

The book is long, almost 500 pages, and I made it to the end, always hoping for hope. But it is faithful to its premise and the hope is unrealized. Percy Munn dies unrepentant and unredeemed.

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